Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Thankful in the Calm

I’m sitting in bed with a hot chocolate on this “cold” winter night in Houston and feeling thankful for the current calmness in my life.  I’ve been reflecting on the year and oh, what a hurricane of a year it has been. With so many ups, downs, tears, laughs, hugs and cries it has most definitely been a year of new normals in the Davis/Nottebart/Holmgren family and it feels as though we've been ravished by the strong side punch of a Cat 5 hurricane (you gotta live in the south to know what that means).  This week, however, it's as though we are sitting in the eye of that hurricane.  There's a stillness, a peace and a beauty in the disaster. 
In our first 9 months of marriage my husband and I have already experienced a lifetime.  We've buried one of his cousins,  buried another of his friends, my step father was diagnosed with cancer and his cousin and one of the groomsmen at our wedding was diagnosed with lymphoma and has been in a medically induced coma for weeks. All this while embarking on our own journey to bring a new life into this world.  Life has brought us so far in our first year that those "First year married couple" arguments about where to put the furniture are so miniscule that they never really had an effect on us.  We've had our moments of course as we are not perfect people but I will say that I have already learned in the first year of marriage how important conceding in an argument is, saying Im sorry is, saying I love you is, compromising is and above all just unconditionally loving someone is.  I have zero doubts that I married the right man.  He has been my everything this year.
 Adjusting to pregnancy was another hurdle for me.  Seems like each new day has brought its own new hormones and each new week its own new ache or pain. I even broke down crying one night when my husband farted ya'll.   All out tears. Hahaha.  Needless to say, he didn’t see that coming. Let me tell you ladies, to anybody who might be wondering…..being pregnant at 22 is completely different than being pregnant at 33! I can attest to that for sure.  While I have gained about ½ the weight I did with my first pregnancy (31 with KJ and to date 14 with Brynn), I feel every bit of these 14 pounds in every inch of my body.  My back doesn’t work, my legs don’t work, my brain doesn’t work, my feet hurt and I can’t stay up passed 9.  It’s treacherous.
My step-father as you know has been battling Stage 4 Mestastic Melanoma and to say that diagnosis shook our family to the core would be an understatement.  Naturally, he began his journey at MD Anderson only to waste weeks feeling as though he was written off as a lost cause.  With over 40 small melanoma brain tumors, it seemed MD Anderson was uninterested in attempting any treatment options.  That led my mother and step father on a cross country journey, first, through a cancer treatment center in Oklahoma and then finally at a facility in Hershey, Pennsylvania that specialized in Melanoma treatment.  It was there they finally met a team of doctors that treated them like humans and not a diagnosis.  They decided this would be there new home base and over the next 6 months commuted between Houston and Pennsylvania countless times even renting an apartment for 6 weeks at one point in order to receive treatment options.  Though we are thankful for the physicians and the opportunity to be treated, the months have not been easy.  Currently there has been no change in his status.  The tumors are no worse than they were when they were discovered but they are also no better.  Given the dire outlook of 3-6 months to live that Google gives you when you look up metastic melanoma, we sit here at almost a year post diagnosis with thankful hearts knowing that it could always be worse. 
There have been some silver linings in this stormy season though.
My family welcomed in a new baby in November, my nephew Greyson, which has my brother adjusting to life a father and my sister in law still home on maternity leave left to figure the whole motherhood journey out.  Each week we all watch in awe at how baby G changes as if we’ve never seen a baby before.  Lol.  In our defense we’ve never seen THIS baby before. We cherish the infant times cause we know they are soon over. 
So here I sit, 9 days before we celebrate Christmas and the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ and all the crazy has subsided and there is a peace and a calm within my family.    There is for once nothing going on.  I relish in that tonight.  Sometimes we miss the mundane life. It’s nice to have it back even if it’s just temporary. My husband and I are happy going into this holiday season knowing that our son will be in town, our daughter will be home by our side and our baby will be happily growing getting ready to take this world by storm and for this moment in time…all will be right with the world. My mom and stepdad are home for the foreseeable future, we are no longer anxiously awaiting the arrival of Greyson at any  moment it’s a just a good week around these parts.
Though the eye of the hurricane is peaceful and calm, if you have lived through a hurricane you well know that the back side of the storm awaits.  I am not na├»ve enough to think our challenges are over.   My stepdad’s journey through cancer is ongoing and who knows what awaits us in the coming year. My brother is now faced with the stress of parenthood and realizing that he is totally, utterly and completely responsible for another human being. My sister in law will undoubtedly meet a new nemesis in the form of an emotion that all working moms meet sooner or later….Guilt.  It’s a beast isn’t it moms.  Before motherhood I never quite new the power of that emotion and what it could do to you. Pray for her to be at ease as she wraps up maternity leave and heads back to work this coming year.  It's a hard thing to do. 
My baby shower is around the corner which means my baby is as well.    The anxiety, restlessness and exhaustion will soon set in awaiting baby Brynn. Luckily this time around my schedule is so jam packed all the time the weeks are flying by.  That being said as the dates on the calendar flip by, I am reminded of the “baby blues” I went through after having Kaily 10 years ago. Did any of ya'll go through that? Like not post pardum.  It wasn't that serious, just a lot of crying as my hormones re-adjusted after giving birth. I remember it well and to think about going through it again makes me nervous. I suppose I am just over analyzing things the way we women do.  This time will be different. My husband will be in the mix during it all. Pray for him as I’m sure I’m not a cakewalk to deal with all the time (or any of the time).
The new year will bring new joy, new pain, new challenges and new memories, but for tonight and for the ensuing days ahead I just want to put it all out of my head and drink this now luke warm cup of cocoa. J
Yes tonight…..I am thankful for the calm…..and those are my inside thoughts.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Pro-Choice v. Pro-Life: An Open Discussion On The Ever Prevalent Controversy

This fall we have reveled in the calm after the storm from a year that politically rocked our nation and divided this country to heights that have not been seen in decades.  Landmark supreme court decisions like Obergefell v. Hodges legalizing gay marriage coupled with a seemingly never-ending barrage of police and civilian brutality cases against young African American citizens shook the nation to its core and ripped scabs off wounds stemming from mistakes made at the inception of this countries formation.  

This week the lull in political and cultural action came to an end and we have been reminded of yet a third hot button topic that deeply divides the United States. Robert Dear decided to plot and carry out his own terrorist attack on a Planned Parenthood location in Colorado in the name of Christianity and his Pro Life views killing three people and injuring 9.  (Any other time in our country when a person attacks and kills a number of people based on religious beliefs we deem them terrorists and so it only seems fitting that this human bare this label as well).  This tragic incident coupled with a new presidential election less than a year away has brought the Pro/Choice Pro/Life issue back to the forefront of our minds. 

Not to discredit everything I've said thus far but I am about to reference a tv show....I watch Scandal religiously (if you are not then you’re crazy J ) and just last week the episode featured one of its main characters depicting what I can only assume was a take on the 2013 eleven hour long Texas filibuster led by then Senator Wendy Davis blocking a senate bill that would have required more stringent abortion regulations for the state of Texas.  If an issue hits prime time TV then it's a part of not only the countries current political landscape but pop culture thus integrating your everyday American's life.

A little background:

In 1973 the US Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide in the landmark decision of Roe v Wade.  It’s been 42 years and tensions on the topic have not settled.  The case also gave the states the right to regulate abortions within their own borders and many states consistently attempt to legislate/over legislate or regulate abortions to the point they are not able to be done. I live in Texas which is an extremely conservative state with southern Christian values and the state legislature has definitely attempted to defund and shut down agencies like Planned Parenthood numerous times.  

My own views on the topic have swayed over the years.  I’ve always deemed myself a moderate leaning liberal when it comes to politics.  As I age and mature in life and in my own Christianity I understand the Pro Life stance more and more, and personally believe in that (which I have not always); however, from a legalization standpoint I am steadfast in my belief of the separation of church and state.  That being said I think organizations like Planned Parenthood should be legal and that the nations Pro Choice stance handed down in Roe v. Wade is appropriate and a must.  It has to be.  My grandmother has told me stories of women bleeding out and dying attempting to give themselves at home abortions with coat hangers.  Abortions are like guns.  Banning and making them illegal will not mean they do not exist.  A woman’s right to choose is her right legally....which does not mean morally.  

I believe if prolife is what we believe in personally, then it is our job as individuals within our families and communities to educate and support women on the issue so that if put in the situation of facing an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy she is equipped with not only a spiritual faith that God is with her, but also a feeling of strength, confidence, support and community love which she needs to choose life. 

Within the circle of girlfriends, abortion is not a four letter word.  It is not uncommon to talk about and it is not uncommon to know someone that has done it.  It’s girl talk.  We are all around it and familiar with it.  Over the years I have heard many many discussions on the topic and reasons why someone has had one or reasons they did not and overwhelmingly I feel that many decisions to have abortions are made based on the expectations, feelings, sentiments and reactions of others.  The opinion of those around us like our mothers, fathers, grandmothers, aunts and best friends all come into play when a woman decides if she should move forward with an unwanted pregnancy or terminate.  I think feelings of shame, embarrassment, disappointment and fear among other things all fuel a woman’s decision at a time when hormones and emotions are already at a high.  No one wants to disappoint the ones closest to us and the ones that have done the most for us. 

I was listening to Christian talk radio about a year ago.  I can’t even remember the name of the woman speaking but the words she spoke where not what I expected to hear on that station.  She did not condemn anyone.  She was not judgy and in fact her message was to society and not to an individual who may be facing this touch situation.  She said there are times in life when we may stray from God’s will.  There are times we may be very distant from him and from where he wants us to be and when that happens God will try to reign a person back in and sometimes he does this in the form of a baby. 

I began crying when I heard those words.  I feel like that is exactly what happened to me when I was 22 years old.  I was in college and a bit of a party girl, but nothing too major.  I have always been a believer but my day to day life actions were consistent with those of a modern day college student.  I was not directly living out the life God wanted for me. I had an unplanned/unexpected/unmarried pregnancy which in hindsight SAVED ME.  But for that unplanned pregnancy and my sweet Kaily J that stemmed from it, I would not be where I am.  I would not have gone to law school, I would not have gotten my act together when I did and I certainly would not be in the place spiritually that I am in today.  God sent her to reign me back in. In the moment that was not clear though.  Fear was all I felt.

The woman on talk radio went on to say something I hope I am strong enough to always remember and replicate. She said  that the response to anyone telling you they are pregnant should be congratulations.
One simple word. 
 As a thirty something year old 8 month pregnant woman I KNOW what a blessing a baby is.  The 22 year old 3 month pregnant girl that I was…did not.  I couldn't breath. I couldn't stop crying. I was terrified to tell my family I was pregnant.  I completely understand why women choose abortion.  Pregnancy, especially unplanned, unwanted and unmarried pregnancy can be scary and the reaction from others can be futile in your decision.  I just wonder how many women would choose life, if they felt like the judgment was not there and that the life was a celebration.  Looking back, I would not change a thing.  Having my daughter under the circumstances that I did allowed me to be a better me.  I pray should my daughters, nieces (if I ever have any), grandkids or any other girl/woman close to me tells me they are pregnant, that I keep calm….even if the circumstances are not perfect…and that I can remember that oh so important word… Congratulations. 
Having children especially alone is not easy.  It's not ideal and it's human nature to react negatively when someone is young, unmarried, irresponsible or not deemed "ready" by societies standard to be a mother.  I'm sure hearing this news from your daughter is devastating to a mother/grandmother.  I pray I never deal with this in my own life but I am aware that abstinence is not a reality.  I realize that people are statistically marrying later in life and I realize that single parent household's are on the rise.  This could very well be a reality to a girl close to me in my lifetime.  I must remember God has a purpose with each child he sends to the world just as he did with my daughter.

 Shaming someone, disapproving of their actions and judging will only lead to decisions like abortion. If you are Pro-Life these are things to keep in mind.  Babies are not the end of the world.  In fact, they are the beginning of a new world. Life continues and sometimes it's exactly what God intended you to go through to get you back to him.

This blog kind of went off on a tangent but sitting in my rocker looking at my big old pregnant belly makes me smile and with Planned Parenthood all over the news this week it’s just kind of been on my mind.  Perhaps someone will read this and feel at ease….

And those are my inside thoughts……
Here are a few links for anyone looking for Christian based help if dealing with an unwanted pregnancy.